Forget team-building. The office that games together stays together
Companies are spending thousands on team-building activities, when they could just buy an Xbox, new study suggests
Move over team building, gaming is the key to unlocking worker productivity.
A new study by Brigham Young University (BYU) information systems professors found newly formed work teams displayed a 20% increase in productivity on subsequent tasks after playing video games together for just 45 minutes.
The study adds to a growing body of literature finding positive outcomes of team video gaming.
“To see that big of a jump – especially for the amount of time they played – was a little shocking,” said co-author and BYU associate professor Greg Anderson.
“Companies are spending thousands and thousands of dollars on team-building activities, and I’m thinking, go buy an Xbox,” said Anderson.
For the study, researchers recruited 352 individuals and randomly organised them into 80 teams, making sure no participants with pre-existing relationships were on the same team.
For their initial experimental task, each team played in a geocaching competition called Findamine, an exercise that gives players short, text-based clues to find landmarks.
Participants were incentivised with cash rewards for winning the competition.
Following their first round of Findamine, teams were randomly assigned to one of three conditions before being sent out to geocache again.
This included team video gaming, quiet homework time or a “goal training” discussion on improving their geocaching results.
Each of these conditions lasted 45 minutes.
The researchers found that while goal-training teams reported a higher increase in team cohesion than the video-gaming teams, the video gamers increased actual performance on their second round of Findamine significantly, raising average scores from 435 to 520.
“Team video gaming may truly be a viable – and perhaps even optimal – alternative for team-building,” the research found.
Bryan Hattingh, founder of Sandton-based exponential leadership company Cycan, said: “It goes without saying that the playing of these games, individually and collectively, delivers meaningful levels of dopamine, particularly when succeeding in the games.
“The bringing together of strangers also serves to produce high levels of oxytocin in the collaborative relationships that are forged through the game, and more so than if they were known to each other.”
Hattingh said that what is important “is that the impact of the gaming and team playing can speak to enhanced technical skill capability in terms of it, and not necessarily any internal personal shift experienced by any of the players, as the games are not based, in any shape or form, on reflection.
“There are many benefits to gaming, so there are most certainly benefits to playing individually. The question would be how sustainable would any increase in team performance be, simply as a result of gaming?”